If you’re one of 35,000 Australians whose name appears on China’s leaked social media warfare database, here’s a few things to think about.

The Financial Review revealed on Monday that a Chinese military contractor which promotes “hybrid warfare” has compiled profiles on more than 35,000 Australians as part of a massive global database of influential figures.
The Australian segment of the list is heavy with high-profile figures from politics, law and the military, but also includes lesser known technology entrepreneurs, academics, business people and religious leaders.
Wise says if anyone on the list has any dirty secrets that could be used against them, now might be the time to clear their conscience.
“If you have a problem that you’ve got a secret family stowed away or secret lover or secret drug habit, now is probably a really good time particularly if you have clearance in the government to speak to someone about it.”
Wise, a former legal officer and squadron leader in the Royal Australian Airforce, says influence campaigns are as old as the bow and arrow and come down to leverage what can be used against you.
The government doesn’t mind if you screw a goat, she says. “But do you have the goat’s permission? And is there compromising evidence?
“Because at the end of the day, the reason people flip usually is because they had no choice. They’ve been compromised in a way that was beyond their capacity to respond.”
But foreign influence can be far more subtle than a compromising photograph in a manila envelope on your doorstep.
In a new documentary commissioned by Netflix called The Social Dilemma, leading Silicon Valley technology ethicists and authors Tristan Harris and Jaron Lanier explicitly argue that social media platforms have the power to permanently alter a person’s behaviour and beliefs about the world.
Chris Poulter, chief executive of OSINT Combine, which specialises in open-source intelligence gathering, says even small markers, or data points, left scattered across the internet can be compiled and fused together.
“Where you live, what’s your interests, the people you associate with, your commentary online, all those things paint a picture, and it’s when people put that picture together that people need to be aware of the exposure.”
Zhenhua’s website was taken down after questions were put to the company. 
Tim Doyle, the 30-year-old digital marketer and founder of Eucalyptus, says once you have somebody’s psychographic profile online, the ability to influence their thoughts, feelings and ideas isn’t just possible, it is simple.
Doyle is well aware of this because he’s seen it happen.
Bunkered down for 55 days in Labor’s campaign headquarters during the 2016 federal election, the then 25-year-old was horrified and amazed at the power of what could be achieved with social media precision marketing.
“On the majority of modern social networks, the content that appears in your feed is driven by a collection of algorithms that make decisions about what to show based on how likely you are to engage,” he says.
“If a state actor has influence on those algorithms they can either boost or quieten the signal of content, increasing or decreasing its likelihood to appear in a given feed.
“This is the most obvious and most common form of influence, and what is typically associated with Russian influence in the last US election. Content farms under state control create content under the umbrella of news sites.”
In 2018, head of the BBC World Service Jamie Angus shared similar concerns with the Financial Review about hybrid warfare campaigns.
“Analysts talk a lot about Russia’s hybrid warfare, which means that there is, sadly, a continuum between, you know, what British authorities believe to be the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury and Russian attempts to shape the conversation globally around Russian strategic interests.
“They are very distant parts but they are parts of the same continuum, and I think everyone should worry about that.”
Doyle says influence campaigns would be nearly impossible to detect, and targeted at both the macro and micro level, down to single individuals.
“It is almost impossible to monitor what is running across the networks at any given time,” he says. “This means pinning any organisation to one position, or one narrative is extremely difficult. This opens up the opportunity to manipulate different audiences with different tactics.”
Poulter says everyone, whether they are on the list or not, should be aware of what information they put out into the world, because once it’s out there, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
And if something looks too good to be true, EJ Wise says: “Take my free legal advice, it’s too good to be true.”